The aviation industry asks to review new restrictions
ACI, IATA, ALTA and CANSO ask to review requirements for travel in the region. As they point out, the implementation of quarantines cancels the demand for travel and increases the number of jobs at risk
2021 began as a year of promise and hope for global socioeconomic recovery with the start of vaccination campaigns. Health and safety are and will be the number one priority; For this reason, the airline industry has been supporting and accompanying States in their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by implementing rigorous multilayered biosafety protocols at all stages of the journey.
However, even though there is a tracking system, we observed the re-imposition of measures that had been suspended, such as quarantines above the requirement of tests and tests, as well as new bans on flights to certain destinations. All this supposes a setback in the efforts to recover numerous economic sectors, such as travel and tourism, among others.
It is in this sense that from the International Council of Airports of Latin America and the Caribbean (ACI-LAC), the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA for its acronym in English) and the Civil Organization of Air Navigation Service Providers (CANSO) express our deep concern at the untimely measures and restrictions that affect air travel in the Latin American and Caribbean region and we reiterate our call to governments to work jointly on the adoption of balanced and standardized measures based on the evaluation of risks and opportunity costs for the population, which is directly affected by the restrictions that affect millions of jobs in our countries.
“The region's airports have seen a sustained recovery -even very gradual- since last June, reaching 45% of the total passengers in November 2019 in November 2020. It has been a joint effort to regain the confidence of passengers and provide a completely safe travel experience. Airports have been very strict in the implementation of sanitary protocols. In addition, the application of pre-tests instead of quarantines has proven to be a highly effective alternative, building confidence in travelers and contributing to the reactivation of travel and tourism. With the arrival of the summer months in the Southern Cone of the region, we expected a more accelerated recovery; however, the imposition of new measures and restrictions will reduce incentives to travel ”, says Rafael Echevarne,
“Between January and November 2020, airlines operating in the region transported about 40% of the total passengers transported in that period of 2019. November marked a milestone with about 16 million passengers in the region (45% of the November 2019 total) thanks to the reactivation of practically all the countries of the region. This shows that there is an interest and need in traveling, therefore, we cannot return to border closures or reimpose obstacles on passengers. We reiterate our willingness to work with governments in the implementation of effective and sustainable mechanisms that guarantee the health of passengers and citizens, while we recover connectivity and this important economic sector ”, comments José Ricardo Botelho, Executive Director & CEO of ALTA.
“We make a new call to governments to apply international regulations for the detection of COVID-19, we cannot go back to acting as at the beginning of the pandemic, closing borders or applying quarantines when even the World Health Organization itself has indicated that the virus is not controlled in this way. It is impossible to reduce exposure to zero, but there are immediate risk management strategies. As an industry, we have established protocols that guarantee travel safety, our priority. That is why we must manage how we live with the virus without putting millions of jobs at risk, without paralyzing the economies that depend on aviation because there are no other alternatives for fast, safe and reliable transport. Air transport is key to the connectivity of countries,
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a significant challenge for aviation and an important focus at this time is coordinating the reboot of the industry. The global recovery has been uneven, with some regions experiencing drops in volumes in recent months, while others are experiencing a slow and steady recovery in flight numbers. For example, the most significant growth was seen in the Caribbean, where an additional 900 daily flights were added in late October and November 2020. In addition to preparing for the restart, organizations across the industry face an unprecedented financial challenge. And while I understand the important measures that are being put in place to protect the public and as we move towards the new normal,
We also reiterate the importance of regulatory predictability for this industry both to ensure compliance and to provide confidence to passengers. Airlines, airports and suppliers require some advance notice to allow adequate planning to operate efficiently and safely. On the other hand, passengers plan their trips in advance and the change in requirements creates uncertainty and disincentives to travel.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in 2020 the global tourism industry regressed 30 years, with 1 billion fewer traveler arrivals and losses of approximately $ 1.1 trillion in revenue from international tourism. For its part, the Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has reported that around six million jobs in the travel and tourism industry and more than 110 billion dollars (US) of contribution to GDP are at risk in Latin America alone and the Caribbean.
The availability of a vaccine is great news for the population, but waiting for mass vaccination to lift restrictions would end up doing more damage. Having standardized protocols and requesting prior tests from passengers will ensure that keeping borders open does not represent a risk of contagion, while we continue on the road to recovery.
Aviation and tourism are major engines of socioeconomic development in the region and by working in a coordinated manner we will recover the connectivity that generates millions of jobs and well-being for our population.